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Duties of The Historian


Introduction  

Every Auxiliary historian holds an important and exciting position.  You help ensure the legacy of your unit will be captured, recorded, and preserved.  In doing so, you honor the memory and work of your Auxiliary colleagues.

The principal duty of a Coast Guard Auxiliary historian, at any level, is to gather, evaluate, preserve and safeguard those materials that are the evidence of members’ and units’ historical activities over the years.  These include documents, publications, physical objects (artifacts) and sound and visual materials.

The District Historian is the lynchpin in the national history program.  Division and flotilla historians may also be appointed and perform parallel duties.

Duties of a District Historian

  1. Maintain a permanent place to store unit archives that is safe from pilferage, fire, dampness, excessive heat, and so forth.
  2. Assemble and maintain a complete reference set of the District publication, board and committee minutes, standing rules and by-laws with changes, staff reports, officer directories, correspondence, even programs, clippings and other permanent historical records. Include the unit charter, district awards, significant member awards and similar memorabilia.  District award information should include information on the establishment of the award, i.e., namesake information, date of establishment, purpose and criteria, and historical list of awardees, along with individual citations.
  3. Maintain a record of past and present elected officers, staff officers, committees and members.  Record important facts about these people.  Compile and maintain a record of all individual and unit awards.
  4. Compile and maintain a chronology of District facts for past years.  Be sure to state the source.  Keep a unit journal of events as they occur.
  5. Collect photographs of District members in action.  Store these properly. (Get professional advice on this, if necessary.)  Emphasize action/work photos rather than those taken for award presentations, speeches, and as poses.  However, it is important to obtain photos of high level officers and awardees.  Each photo should tell a self-evident story.
  6. Encourage the donation of personal papers and memorabilia of key Auxiliarists.
  7. Develop an “oral history” program within the District.  Encourage interviews with "old timers" and key people to get their experiences recorded for future reference.  This includes press interviews.
  8. Be responsible for the collection and preservation of Auxiliary archival materials until they are turned over to the Auxiliary Record Collection at East Carolina University.  Ensure that the District publication is sent regularly to ECU at the address below.  Send copies of important documents, as well as surplus historical materials to:
  9. O. W. Martin, Jr. Coast Guard Auxiliary Records Collection
    c/o Dale Sauter
    Manuscript Curator, Special Collections Department
    Joyner Library
    East Carolina University
    Greenville, NC  27858-4353
    (252) 328-0275
    sauterd@mail.ecu.edu
  10. Be responsible for the collection of artifacts such as uniforms, insignia, flags and other non-print materials related to Auxiliary history.  These items need to be evaluated and sent to the Coast Guard Curator.  A letter of donation must accompany the material which describes it, who the former owner was with an accompanying donation letter to you from the member or member’s family, and a listing of the items being donated.  In the list or letter provide the best description possible of what the items are, when they were in use and for what purpose, and their significance for permanent preservation.  Brief biographical information on the member should be provided that includes dates of birth and death, dates of membership, offices and qualifications held, awards received (with citations), and family contact information, plus any press items on the person.  Similar information should be provided for a unit.  It is best to contact Coast Guard Curator, first to let the Curator know what you would like to send, and assess its importance:
  11. Aryln S. Danielson
    Coast Guard Curator
    Arlyn.S.Danielson@uscg.mil
  12. The exhibit center will make these materials available on a carefully accounted for loan basis to museums and other reputable institutions for exhibits including Auxiliary history.
  13. Encourage the appointment of division and flotilla historians.  Even though these positions are not recognized as official staff members, it is logical for division captains and flotilla commanders to select a willing volunteer to act as the unit historian.  Give unit historians and members guidance, training, and assistance in evaluating, collecting, and preserving historical materials.  Encourage members to create, write, maintain, and preserve unit histories.  Encourage members to submit articles or short items on historical topics for each issue of the unit periodical and to mount historical displays at meetings, conferences, and community venues.  The District Historian might be unaware of events and activities taking place at various locations in the district.  This fact alone argues strongly for the appointment of active historians at the flotilla and division levels.  They are essential to ensuring that important historical evidence is gathered, preserved, and made known.
  14. Prepare articles for the district publication which will engender interest in Auxiliary unit history and make clear how members can help in the gathering of historical material.  It is useful to make clear that what is obvious and familiar today may be important, but forgotten in the future, unless deliberately preserved.  Similarly, the District Historian must press for a few minutes to address at each meeting the district board and an open session for all members concerning the status and needs of the historical program.
  15. Plan and be responsible for the eventual publication and dissemination of a competently researched and well-written, comprehensive history of the District/Region Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  16. As needed, appoint and supervise members of a unit history committee for the purpose of all of the above.
NOTE: The greatest obstacles to having interesting and useful Coast Guard Auxiliary history available are:
    • a lack of awareness of the importance of history to achieving pride in belonging and to increasing efficiency by making it possible to build on past successes and to avoid past errors.
    • failure to record events as they take place
    • not assembling and preserving written, audio-visual and physical evidence of history, and
    • lack of a carefully planned historical program carried out with vigor.  The District Historian can and must overcome these barriers with tactful persuasion and unswerving persistence, and most of all by setting the example.